Who is the Anti-Christ? That is an interesting and complicated question. First, let me say that the Anti-Christ will be an actual person. However, like Judas Iscariot, he will not become this person until Satan himself enters him—“Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve” (Luke 22:3, NKJV).[i] Second, let me say that it is currently impossible to identify this person. The Bible tells us this man will be revealed to the world at a specific point in time.
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God… And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, NKJV). Therefore, this teaching is not to discover the identity of the Anti-Christ, but rather to understand his genealogical and prophetic relationship to the nation of Israel.
There is much debate amongst Christians scholars about the end-times, in theological terms, what is called Eschatology. I hold a pre-millennial view of scripture, meaning Christ has come once and is soon to return to establish His earthly millennial kingdom (1,000-year rule) in Israel, from Jerusalem. The alternate view suggests we are presently living in the millennial kingdom, and the one-thousand years is figurative, not literal.
Pre-millennial teachings defend, from scripture, how the nation of Israel will go through a seven-year time of difficulty before Yeshua returns.[ii] This period is called “the tribulation,” and the last three and one-half years of this period is called “the great tribulation.” It becomes even worse for the Jewish people.[iii]
The pervasive view within the church about the Anti-Christ is that he will most likely be a Gentile, possibly of Italian origins and a descendant of the Roman empire. This view comes from an interpretation of the Book of Daniel that describes four kingdoms that will rule over Israel, the last being the Roman Empire.[iv] While the Roman Empire fell in 476 A.D.,[v] some theologians believe this empire will revive during the tribulation period.
A less popular view is that the Anti-Christ will be a Gentile of Babylonian origin, a remnant of the Roman Empire that spread all the way to modern-day Iraq. Still, others speculate the Anti-Christ could be an Assyrian, namely from a reference in the book of Daniel to the “king of the north,” which geographically lies north of Israel. These are all exegesis, interpretations of the Bible that, for me, somehow miss the Jewishness of scripture. Why would the Jews be looking for a king who is a Gentile? I have studied these verses and other documents and have come to a completely different conclusion that might surprise you.
We need to remember that the Bible, for the most part, is presenting a narrative of God’s relationship with His chosen people and nation—Israel. It is not that the Gentiles are excluded from the narrative. Quite contrary as we will discover in this teaching. It is just that we always need to interpret scripture from a Jewish perspective, i.e., how does the narrative reveal God’s dealing with Israel. Yeshua said, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near” (Matthew 24:32). Israel is, therefore, God’s timeclock for all human history.
The other point we need to remember is the rabbis are not ignorant of God’s word or His law. They know the same Messianic prophesies we do; only they are blind regarding Yeshua as the fulfillment of those prophecies. Therefore, they are still waiting for a descendant of King David to be born as the rightful heir of his throne. The church views the Messiah as the anointed Son of God. This is true. However, the Messiah is also the anointed king of Israel.[vi]
Let us now explore from scripture the eschatology of the Anti-Christ. The Book of Daniel tells us about a king of the north and a king of the south who fight against each other for several years. It then tells us that another king will rise in place of the king of the north. Therefore, the king of the north is not the Anti-Christ.
If we continue reading, we see this second king is also not the Anti-Christ, for he dies as it is written, “There shall arise in his place one who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom; but within a few days he shall be destroyed, but not in anger or in battle” (Daniel 11:20). Notice, however, it says “the glorious kingdom.” Biblically, the glorious kingdom can only be a reference to Israel that will one day be at the very heart and center of God’s Millennial Kingdom when Christ returns.[vii] It is not a reference to Rome, America, or any Gentile nation.
Then, another unique king arises: “And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue” (Daniel 11:21). This third king also comes to power in the glorious kingdom. Once again, we see a scriptural reference to the Kingdom of God, which is Israel. Therefore, this king must be an Israelite. However, we are told, “They [Israel] will not give the honor of royalty,” meaning they will ultimately reject this king.
However, the fact that Israel can deny his royalty suggests this man is descendant of King David. If he were a Gentile, they would reject his governing authority, the same way the Jews rejected the authority of the Roman governing officials. We see in scripture that the Jewish people will reject this man as their king. Now that sounds a lot like what happened to Yeshua, where we read, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). However, Daniel is not referring to Yeshua, the true king of Israel.
On the contrary, Yeshua is beautiful and perfect, loving and compassionate, graceful and full of truth and the grace of our Heavenly Father. No, this king must, therefore, be a false Messiah, one who tries to deceive the Jewish people into convincing them he is their long-awaited king of the lineage of David.
I have spoken to several Orthodox rabbis about their understanding of who they believe the Messiah will be. Most recognize from scripture that the Messiah, the anointed one of God, will be the rightful king of Israel and God’s representative in the earth. Therefore, he must be of the lineage of King David. Otherwise, the Messianic prophesies would be false. The evidence of his Messiahship is established, not only by overcoming and making peace with Israel’s surrounding enemies but by his establishing universal peace with every nation.[viii] In other words, he will be a man of peace.
You can ask almost any Jewish person this one question (assuming they believe in God): Why do you reject Jesus as the Messiah? They will almost always give you the same answer: Because Jesus never established universal peace for Israel. Therefore, the most important attribute the Jewish people are looking to validate the Messiahship, besides his continual lineage from King David, is to make world peace.
Regarding the Anti-Christ, it is written, “He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time” (Daniel 11:20). Notice also that this man enters peaceably into the land of Israel. However, concerning Israel’s enemies, he will be a man of war against every nation that comes against the Jewish people.
The Old Testament gives us metaphors, also called shadows of future prophetic events.[ix] King David was one of the greatest kings of Israel. His military strength and prowess substantially enlarged the kingdom of Israel and established Jerusalem as her political capital and spiritual center. However, it was David’s son, Solomon who would become the man of peace and build the Temple in Jerusalem. The Hebrew name given to King Solomon (Shlomo) is derived from the Hebrew root Shalom (שָׁלוֹם).
Once again, notice the prophetic shadow: The man of war who expands the kingdom of Israel (reflecting King David), precedes the man of peace (reflecting King Solomon) who ultimately establishes global peace by making covenants with many nations. Prophetically, we see the ultimate progeny of King David and King Solomon, Yeshua, as the Prince of Peace.[x] He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
I recently taught about the coming battle of God and Magog. This conflict breaks out between Israel and the nations that presently surround her, most whom are Arab nations that are descendant of Ishmael and Esau. Yes, Israel will be victorious in this conflict, although not without a great cost, and yes, she will take much plunder from these nations also.[xi]
However, before peace can come to Israel, her rightful king will first need to subdue her enemies so that she might receive much if not all the land promised to the descendants of Abraham. However, there is, even more, to understand about the future kingdom of the Anti-Christ.
Many of the Orthodox rabbis have yet to recognize the modern state of Israel, or at least its governmental authority. The reason is that God created Israel and commanded her to function as a theocracy, whereby the priests, the sons of Aaron would govern the people according to the Law of Moses.
A democratic parliamentary government is wholly incompatible with this biblical system, and while the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the rabbinic courts are part of Israel’s judicial system, they presently only have exclusive jurisdiction over marriage, divorce, and a few other civil matters.[xii] Most rabbis believe that it will be the Messiah alone who will not only gather the dispersed and exiled remnant of the Jewish people but will be the chief builder of the Messianic Temple itself.
The rabbis are uncertain about the location of the ancient Holy of Holies, and therefore, believe that God will raise a prophet who will speak for the Lord and reestablish the precise location of the third Temple. For it is written, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deuteronomy 18:15).
We now begin to see a complete picture of the false restoration of both the house of David and the lineage of Aaron. Yes, a false Messiah, the Anti-Christ, and a false prophet will partner and cooperate with this great deception of God’s chosen people. As it is written, “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet” (Revelation 16:13).
In the Book of Revelation, the Anti-Christ is called “the beast,” and the false prophet, who gives power to the beast is called “the dragon.” “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:4). If the Anti-Christ is ruling the world from Jerusalem, then Israel has become the global center of political, economic, and spiritual power.[xiii] “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18). The great city is a reference to Jerusalem.
The false Messiah will profess to be the rightful heir of King David. He will subdue Israel’s enemies and greatly expand her land, and he will rebuild the next Temple in Jerusalem, putting in place a false priesthood that has been deceived by a false prophet. And in the middle of this seven-year covenant of peace, the Anti-Christ will, “Exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done” (Daniel 11:36).[xiv]
When the Jewish people discover the hidden identity of the Anti-Christ, they will rebel against this man. In turn, the Anti-Christ will bring his full wrath against the Jewish people and persecute them for more than three years. At the same time, the Gentile nations that the Anti-Christ made a covenant of peace with will also turn against both him and the Jewish people collectively. As it is written, “He [the Anti-Christ] shall come to his end, and no one will help him” (Daniel 11:45).
For three and one-half years before Christ returns, the nations will once again desecrate the Temple. As it is written, “leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months [which is three and one-half years]” (Revelation 11:2). Yeshua said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13). Yeshua affirmed that if the Jewish people continued to reject their true Messiah, they and their land would be overrun by the nations.
Oh, how great the darkness that is coming to the earth, “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people…” (Isaiah 60:2). Yeshua said, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
However, for the church, Yeshua has made us aware of these things that are to come. Let us not be deceived by events happing in the earth. “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). “For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled” (Revelation 17:17).
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Bible (NKJV) unless otherwise noted, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.
[ii] The Hebrew calendar follows a lunar cycle. Seven full moon cycles complete one week. Since the solar year does not perfectly align with the lunar cycles, there are either twelve or thirteen months in a Hebrew calendar year. Every seven years is a Sabbatical year, called a Shemitah. This seven-year cycle is also called a week.
[iii] Matthew 24:21-22.
[iv] Daniel 2:29-35.
[vi] Matthew 2:2.
[vii] Acts 1:6.
[viii] Daniel 9:27.
[ix] Hebrews 10:1.
[x] Isaiah 9:6.
[xi] Psalm 83. Jeremiah 49:10. Obadiah 1:17:18.
[xiii] Revelation 11:8.
[xiv] Revelation 13:5-6.